Why is there a snobbery against dated names?

[name_f]Sarah[/name_f] isn’t a “dated” name it’s a biblical name. I mean ones that were trendy

Everyone has preferences when it comes with names that have a “spike” in popularity. When the spike is current (eg, -aiden names) many people complain that they are boring, unimaginative, “try hard” names, and many people love them. When the name was popular in the last few decades, some people love the name, and others find the association with a recent decade too strong. When the name had a spike in popularity 70+ years ago, some people love it, while others hate it for being an “old man/old lady name”.

Generally, people tend to communicate their preferences, or interpret other people’s opinions as if they are objective facts, rather than the subjective opinions that they are. “McKenzie feels so dated!” means that it is strongly associated with the '90s for the person speaking. If you like the association, great. “Mabel is such a grandma name!” means that the person speaking associates it with elderly women. If that isn’t an issue, then fine.

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I think nameberry is ahead of the curve when it comes to trends in names. Sometimes when someone is asking opinions on names it can be very helpful to see what the general consensus on a name is. Someone who isn’t as familiar with name styles/trends may benefit from that outside perspective and knowledge.
Of course, getting the feedback that a name might be considered “dated” could be helpful but I see how it could also offend. However, names that spiked at certain times are dated to a specific time period and pointing that out can also help narrow down name choices.
For me, I like very specific and thorough feedback on names. Generally, people also seem to add that if you love a name you should use it!
In this case you may have a name that is associated with a certain time period but it’s still a lovely name. Many wonderful people share that name! While someone might point out more modern variations for a new baby I don’t think they mean to offend.
Hope that helps!

Edited to add: I wanted to add an example where this was helpful to me! I love the name Gemma but there seemed to be several members who were in another country that said it was “dated” there. That allowed me to make a decision with all the information I could gather. Might not be helpful in every situation but personally, I love specific feedback like this!


[name_m]Just[/name_m] goes to illustrate the subjectivity I also mentioned then - even in the perception of what’s dated and what’s not. It is dated where I’m from - the fact that it’s ancient doesn’t automatically render it a classic - it’s about consistency of use over time. [name_f]Sarah[/name_f], where I’m from, was trendy / popular in the 80s. It hasn’t maintained consistency of use since. [name_m]Hence[/name_m] now, despite being biblical in origin, it feels dated as it was popular in a certain time.


Yes but it was never a trendy name. It was a classic that had a resurgence, it will never be looked at as a cool or trendy name of the time.

Then we differ in what we consider classic. [name_m]Just[/name_m] to make my point again, for me, classic = maintains consistency of use over time periods to the point where it can’t be tied to a particular time. [name_f]Elizabeth[/name_f] is a good example. I wouldn’t be able to guess at the age of an [name_f]Elizabeth[/name_f] from the name alone. I’d be able to take a good guess with a [name_f]Sarah[/name_f].

[name_f]My[/name_f] nanas mums name was [name_f]Sarah[/name_f] and she was born in 1898. It’s a biblical old name. Far from a trendy 80s name.

I’m aware it’s a biblical name and therefore people have been called it throughout history. Jessica is a Shakespearean name that people today associate with the 80s/90s when it enjoyed a boom in our living memory. We’ve been over this and those origins don’t change my opinion. To get back to your point, some names are dated because they enjoyed a period of being fashionable and then fell out of popular favour thus tying them to a particular time. My own name is one. It’s totally fair enough for people to find names boring / dusty / uninspiring when they’ve been around them their whole life. Some of the new raft of names will be the dated of tomorrow. Not snobbery - some people don’t like fad names at all and go for classic / timeless, some as people have said are bored, some don’t want their children to grow up with names of their mums generation, some don’t like via association, for most it’s a mix. ‘Perfectly good name’ is highly subjective, isn’t it.


This is a very quick, very rough look back at some of these names. Thought I’d share.
Looking at top girls names by the decade from 1910*

1950 - [name_f]Linda[/name_f] hit No1 instead of [name_f]Mary[/name_f] which had been at 1 from the start of the century. From then on names other than classic became No. 1

1970 - [name_f]Jennifer[/name_f] had 580,000 compared to [name_f]Amy[/name_f] at 2 with around 250,000 - The only other decades with much difference between 1 & 2 were for [name_f]Mary[/name_f] at 1 in the early part of the 20th century.

[name_f]Jessica[/name_f] at No 1 for both the 80’s and 90’s.

1910-Thelma 28, [name_f]Pauline[/name_f] 34 This is where non classics (very broadly) were situated

1920 -Doris 8 [name_f]Mildred[/name_f] 9 [name_u]Shirley[/name_u] 17 [name_f]Barbara[/name_f] 18

1930- [name_f]Barbara[/name_f] 3 [name_u]Shirley[/name_u] 4 [name_f]Patricia[/name_f] 5

1940 - [name_f]Linda[/name_f] 2 [name_f]Barbara[/name_f] [name_f]Patricia[/name_f] [name_u]Carol[/name_u] (sorry [name_f]Susan[/name_f] comes in strongly here)

1950 – [name_f]Mary[/name_f] still no 1 [name_f]Linda[/name_f] at 2 [name_f]Deborah[/name_f] [name_f]Donna[/name_f] [name_f]Karen[/name_f]

1960 – [name_u]Lisa[/name_u] is at 1. [name_f]Mary[/name_f] 2. [name_f]Susan[/name_f] [name_f]Karen[/name_f]

1970 – [name_f]Jennifer[/name_f] 1 [name_f]Amy[/name_f] [name_f]Melissa[/name_f] [name_u]Michele[/name_u] [name_u]Lisa[/name_u] [name_f]Nicole[/name_f]

1980 -Jessica 1 [name_f]Jennifer[/name_f]

1990 -Jessica 1 [name_u]Ashley[/name_u] [name_f]Emily[/name_f]

2000 - [name_f]Emily[/name_f] 1 [name_f]Maddison[/name_f] [name_f]Emily[/name_f] [name_f]Olivia[/name_f]

2010 – [name_f]Emma[/name_f] 1 [name_f]Olivia[/name_f] [name_f]Sophia[/name_f]


It’s interesting what you say about your nanas mum being born in 1898. Names are said to “come back into style” so to speak every 100 years. So 100 years would make sense for [name_f]Sarah[/name_f] seeming dated as a 80’s or 90’s name for namers today- which according to its description peaked in the Top 10- 1978-2002 but is now sliding down.


Yeah, like pretty much everyone says that a name like [name_u]Kelsey[/name_u] is a “mom name”, but I really have not met anyone with that name in real life

So I have a couple of thoughts on this.

  1. It’s just the 100-year rule coming into play. I was born in the 70s. [name_f]My[/name_f] daughter will not be naming her child after me/her date or any of our friends or any of her friends’ moms/dads. I’m not saying no one does it, but those names are dated and the wrong kind of old-fashioned. However, she could conceivably consider naming children after her grandparents, born in the 40s/50s, although that still might be a bit dated and again, not quite old-fashioned enough – while I’m more likely to look at my parents names, and names from that time os old and dowdy. Get to my grandparents, born in the 10s/20s, and I’m looking at them as more possible and my daughter is more likely to see them as sweetly old-fashioned and very real considerations. At least that’s how I see it.

  2. Something dated to me may not be dated to you, if we are from different generations. [name_f]Every[/name_f] body I graduated high school with was named [name_m]Matt[/name_m], [name_u]Chris[/name_u], [name_m]Jason[/name_m], [name_m]Mark[/name_m], or [name_m]Aaron[/name_m], with a few Scotts and Brians to round it out. So I dislike all of those names because I’m just so tired of them. But there is nothing wrong with those names at all, and someone younger than me might see the fresh appeal of these “dated” names while someone older than me might see them as all those upstart names and not even realize they aren’t popular anymore.
    Example: my cousin named her son [name_m]Kevin[/name_m] two years ago. KEVIN! What year is it? Oh my goodness. I still struggle with calling an adorable little toddler [name_m]Kevin[/name_m], and I feel bad that I feel that way. But boy I loved that name when I was a teen and knew a bunch of cute boys named [name_m]Kevin[/name_m].

  3. People that are “into names”, like people that post here, tend to be a bit snobby about names they like/dislike. They are more aware of trends, both in terms of popularity and in terms of style. So I think even without meaning to can be more judgey than they mean to be. But at the same time we don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings by outright saying “ooh yuck, that’s an awful name”. So we try to find kinder softer ways to say it. Sometimes a name really just isn’t my style, I don’t like whatever that type of names in general, but other times I’m saying “not my style” and meaning “UGH!”. I think sometimes we use the word “dated” like that, either we believe it’s true or we are trying not to be overly rude.

Because nameberry is known for choosing the next up and coming names. To me this is kinda like asking a fashion website/magazine why no one likes last seasons styles anymore. It doesn’t mean they’re bad but it’s not fresh or as exciting to discuss as what’s coming.


Your not understanding what I’m saying tho. Most names that Nameberry likes are not really “up and coming” they are old names that are having a resurgence for example, olivia or [name_f]Charlotte[/name_f] for example. I mean names that were trendy at a certain time like [name_u]Ashley[/name_u] or [name_f]Brianna[/name_f], people rule names like that out and call them “dated” when really that’s not a reason to dislike a name.

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I mean, I think it’s mostly a preference thing, though I can see how it’s a little different from other preferences in that “dated” tends to to be considered more of a definitive dealbreaker, or it’s assumed everyone shouldn’t like them.

This is honestly a really interesting question on something that’s so common or accepted that I hadn’t ever thought of having to explain “why.”

In some sense, I feel like this is just how everything works. There are dated names, dated interior decorating and architecture styles, dated fashion, etc. And sure, there are things in each of these categories that are timeless classics that never go out of style (For names, think [name_u]Michael[/name_u], [name_u]William[/name_u], etc.) and things in each of these categories that will eventually become cool again when enough time has passed (Agatha, [name_f]Edith[/name_f], [name_f]Marilyn[/name_f], were all “dated” or “grandma names” pretty recently, but now I know toddlers with those names).

I’d guess that you also probably have some names that you wouldn’t use because you (consciously or not) associate them with an older generation. I don’t think that this is inherently negative or snobbery. If you’ve only ever heard a name on 60-80 year olds, or even 40-50 year olds, it’s likely just not going to feel like it “fits” on a newborn baby.

Also I think most people, especially people on nameberry, really want to steer away from uber-popular names whether they’re popular now or were popular 50 years ago. Avoiding current uber-popular names can be a little harder because sometimes people won’t realize that they’re picking a name that’s about to blow up. However, avoiding names that were uber-popular 50 years ago? [name_m]Easy[/name_m].


I’m not trying to be obstinate here, but why not? Why can’t that be a reason to dislike a name? Names have trends the same as clothing. And certain names are on trend and popular and others are off trend or dated. And we dislike names based on sound, length, meaning etc. So it only goes to assume people will dislike a name based on trendiness as well. (Either in favor of, or against)

However that doesn’t mean you have to like the trendy names, in fact I know there are several people on here who post about their love of off trend, dated names and get lots of support. I have found that if you tell people on here that you love a name, they will usually support you even if it’s not their style. But if you ask for people’s opinions they will give them


But haven’t you done similar? Your history shows you calling one persons name choices “dull and old-lady like” and in another instance describing a name as sounding like a middle aged womans


I agree with the pp, you’ve called other names old lady like names, which usually indicates that people find a certain name dated.

I think it depends on where you live, both country wise and state wise. Bc where I live, nanes like [name_f]Jessica[/name_f], and [name_f]Sara[/name_f] are still used. Like for instance I like the name [name_f]Stephanie[/name_f], even though it was popular in the 80s.

Like it or not we all subscribe to a certain fashion, even being out of style is a type of fashion. I think people dodge names from their own generation because of many associations with the name and the desire for one’s own child to feel more particular than a generic memory, however I do note that people have a fondness for names from their grandmothers generation for the same sort of reason.
I mean [name_f]Brittany[/name_f] and [name_f]Jennifer[/name_f] will likely make a comeback. I love [name_f]Britta[/name_f] and [name_f]Jennie[/name_f] a whole lot so it’s possible either the full names or diminutives will make the grade again.